Twelve tales of the supe.., p.8
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       Twelve Tales Of The Supernatural, p.8

           Mario V. Farina
 
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for about twenty minutes and that, during that time, I had been completely immobile. She had wondered whether I was all right and was happy to see that everything was OK. I agreed that there was nothing wrong and I finished my sausage and eggs though much of the food had become cold.

  The following day I went to RPI and asked to speak to someone who knew Professor Collins. There was nothing wrong, I said. I simply wanted to learn more about him. I added that he might be able to help me with a problem. Someone did assist me and told me that Collins was a professor of Psychology and Philosophy and that he had been doing experiments dealing with intelligence, human behavior, and virtual reality.

  I thanked the individual and left determined to speak to Professor Collins. I did reach him the following day and made an appointment to go see him. He said that he would be able to see me at two on the following afternoon.

  When we met, the first words Professor Collins spoke to me constituted an apology for having troubled me with an experiment. He thought that my age was such that I would not be aware of what he was doing and he would not need to give me a lengthy explanation, then ask for permission. He had been surprised with the intelligence I had displayed in coping with the sudden events. He hoped I would not make an issue of his actions since they had been intended for the good of humanity. I told him I probably not go forward with anything.

  Though I did not remember having met him, he gave me information that I had had an initial contact with him in an evening of entertainment hosted by General Electric a year earlier whereby the professor had presented an experiment in hypnotism. He had claimed he could hypnotize an entire room at the same time. To those hypnotized he had left a post hypnotic suggestion involving the word huckleberries. I remembered the occasion but felt I had not been hypnotized. It came as a disappointment and a source of pique to learn that I had unwittingly surrendered my mind to this man. He had selected me from the audience because of my age. This had been the epitome of effrontery toward me by this man. I felt I should sue for something but didn’t know exactly for what.

  Professor Collins stated that when he uttered huckleberries, that word would trigger a post hypnotic suggestion that would immediately put me under his control. Then he would be able to send me back in time using a special adaptation of virtual reality. Apparently the experiment had worked and I had gone back to 1937. Though intended to be virtual, it had felt utterly real. What I had experienced, seemingly over several hours, had all been done within a time frame of only a few minutes. He, himself, had not been with me at any point, he asserted.

  Then I remembered the book. I showed Professor Collins the Poppy Ott book. How could I have a material book in my hands though the experiment had been one of virtual reality? The sight of the book bewildered him. He reluctantly admitted that he had no answer. “Give me a moment,” he said, more to himself than to me. He closed his eyes and went silent, trance-like, for several minutes. Finally, opened his eyes and spoke.

  “Mr. Gordon,” he said, “I conclude you had that book in your possession all along. You could not have gotten it in 1937. There is no other explanation.”

  I was about to controvert his remark when there was a voice from the intercom. “Professor, there is a woman here with a letter and a demand for money.”

  “Send her in!”

  The door opened and a woman in postal uniform entered. She handed a battered envelope to Professor Collins. “Professor, she said, this envelope was mailed to you in June 1937. On behalf of the Postal Service, we apologize for its condition and the delay in its delivery. There is only a three cent stamp on it. I’ve been instructed to collect ninety-five cents postage due, but I have the authority to personally waive the fee, as a courtesy to you and the school, and I do so.” She left.

  Professor Collins examined the envelope and its postmark, then opened the envelope. He pulled out a small plain-looking piece of paper with a bit of handwriting on it. He studied the paper and appeared stunned. He handed it to me. It was a receipt made out to the professor by the Acme Bonding Service. It was a receipt for one hundred dollars, bail money for the release from jail of one Roger Gordon. “Y-you were r-right, Mr. Gordon,” Professor Collins stuttered as he spoke to me. “It wasn’t virtual reality after all. You actually were in 1937 and I was there with you!”

  Time Needed To Sort Itself Out

  CNN came out with the breaking news that both Goggle and Apricot Technology had created an app that would allow people to make visits to the past! This announcement was met with alarm from any quarters and there were demands that injunctions be filed preventing this kind of activity. Arguments were that studies needed to be made as to whether this new capability might be dangerous.

  1 Both technology companies opposed these sentiments on the basis that simple ordinary visits; for example, vacations, would pose no dangers and could actually be beneficial to the peoples of both the present and the past. These companies cited the U. S. Constitution guaranteeing the right of the people to travel without restriction. In the future, they suggested, tourists might find it commonplace traveling freely between the past and present. There might even be a common unit of currency invented that would encourage such travel.

  "Ludicrous!" cried out many. "Absurd!," "preposterous!," "reckless!," "foolhardy," even "cockamamie!" were other terms used. But the two companies were not moved by the uproar. Each wanted to be first in this endeavor and both said they were making plans to send an explorer to the past at an early date.

  The President of the United States said the Law Department should issue an injunction immediately until a hearing could be held. The Prime Minister of Great Britain wrote an open letter to the world family of nations denouncing the travel notion. The leaders of Germany, Russia, Japan, and China stated they would oppose these foolish adventures to the utmost of their abilities short of war. Nevertheless, the two companies stood firm.

  Amos Brown, a respected news reporter with the Washington Post, remarked it was like someone had lit a fuse on the mother of all bombs and the world was watching as it burned to see whether someone would blow it out.

  While wrangling over the news, Goggle announced Roger T. Benson as being the first traveler to the past. It was exactly noontime when the event had occurred. Roger was visiting April 7, 1967! He was making explorations as a news reporter. Concurrently, Apricot made a similar announcement for Alice L. Watson who was currently in June 6, 1793. These pronouncements did not reveal why those target dates had been chosen. Where, exactly, these individuals were located in those date periods was not revealed by either company. The news from Goggle was that Roger was having success with his visit. He was walking the streets of the past! Apricot had no news concerning what they might be hearing from Ms. Watson.

  Within hours, the names, Roger Benson and Alice Watson was on the lips of several billion inhabitants of the world. Goggle and Apricot were making brief update announcements every few minutes. Specific details of his experiences were expected soon from Roger. There were fears expressed for the safety of Alice. The entire world seemed to be holding its breath.

  Within minutes, Max O’Brien, founder and CEO of Goggle, was summoned to a Congressional hearing by, Nadine Wilkins, Speaker of the House, to be held as soon as possible.

  In New York City, it was the afternoon of April 7, 1967. Roger was sitting in the Public Library on 34th Street. An article in the Encyclopedia Britannica about time travel had drawn his attention. Surreptitiously, he had taken a photo of this with his smart phone and TT-Mailed (TimeTravel Mail) it to his supervisor, Randolph Gregory. The latter read the message and put a printout of it in the top drawer of his desk. Immediately, he TT-Mailed Roger to return to the present at once!

  He then sent a message to Max O'Brien requesting an urgent, immediate meeting with him. He received a response within seconds asking Randolph to come to his office.

  In the meantime, Goggle released informatio
n that the trip to the past had been made possible by the creation of a time travel force field using a Base 16 digital application developed by a special research team at Goggle. Not to be outdone, Apricot immediately responded that their application was superior since the base used was 16.5 or Base 16 Plus, as they dubbed it.

  Earlier, the news media of the nation had begun a drumbeat demanding more frequent updates on what was happening with both time travelers.

  Apricot soon made the sad announcement that nothing had been heard from Alice Watson. The company advised it was carefully studying the situation and would issue a report at an early time. Nothing was ever heard again from this company. It was as if Apricot had never existed.

  Goggle decided to withhold the fact that Roger Benson was being recalled.

  Word came to Goggle that the TT-Mail message Randolph had sent recalling Roger had not been delivered because there was nobody at the other end to receive it. Further attempts to reach Roger failed.

  Randolph and Max were having a meeting behind closed doors
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